Ugandan animation startup Tamithi goes head-to-head with big boys

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Ugandan animation and gaming startup Tamithi is taking on bigger players across Africa with its locally relevant games and films.

Founded in December 2015, Tamithi looks to tell the stories of African diversity through animations, illustrations and games, focusing on creating innovative local ideas and themes that relate to everyday people.

In doing so, it is going up against bigger, more established firms such as Fatboy and Triggerfish. But co-founder Catherine Mirembe believes the company has an edge in its versatility.

“We have blended these three digital art platforms – illustrations, animations and games – together, which creates a more effective and efficient blend to our pipelines and products,” she told Disrupt Africa.

On the gaming side, Tamithi has developed NOGA, a fruit picker educational Android-based mobile game based on a remote village farm in Uganda. The aim is to celebrate Uganda’s heritage as an agricultural nation while educating players on nutrition and health.

The startup has also released a film, Asaf, about a modest, kind-hearted and hardworking painter who lives in the suburbs of Kampala. Its purpose is to create awareness of the danger of road accidents. Launched in August, the film was nominated for the Uganda Film Festival Awards.

Mirembe said the startup is also working on a comic book series based around teenage pregnancy, and a 3D animation series on the beauty and diversity of culture and heritage. Part of the startup’s goal is to preserve Africa’s culture and heritage by appealing to the younger generation.

“We are also living in an information age, but most of this information is not effectively and efficiently communicated, bringing about a number of challenges such as ignorance, unemployment, poor health, and loss of opportunities,” she said.

“We at Tamithi are confident enough to know that our digital products will have a huge impact in Uganda, East Africa and Africa at large.”

Going up against more established animation houses is not without its challenges, however, especially as the startup is self-funded. Mirembe said Tamithi has applied to a number of funding opportunities but was yet to secure investment.

“Strategic partnerships and financial constraints have been our biggest challenges,” she said. “Being a creative firm whose services and products require a lot of capital, space, a skilled team and marketing, lack of sufficient funds has really consequently contributed to the undesired slower progress and inefficiency in putting our brand out.”

It has started to see growth, however, in spite of the digital art market in Uganda being “virgin”, in Mirembe’s words.

“This is a great opportunity for us, and we have therefore been challenged to create a lot more awareness. With more revenues, we hope to expand into the education and corporate films market as far as effective audio-visual communication solutions are concerned,” she said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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